King Luta’s challenge to TUCO’s presidency gone to May

The content originally appeared on: Trinidad and Tobago Newsday

Calypsonian Morel “King Luta” Peters. –

CALYPSONIAN Morel Peters, also called King Luta, will be allowed to amend his lawsuit against the Trinbago Unified Calypsonians Organisation (TUCO) as the matter progresses in the High Court.

On Friday, Justice Kevin Ramcharan gave directions for Peters to amend his statement of case to include pleadings as it relates to membership.

If he fails to do so, the judge will determine TUCO’s notice of application to strike out the calypsonian’s lawsuit which challenged the elevation of Ainsley King as president when former president Lutalo Masimba died on July 13, 2021.

Peters had also sought an injunction to compel the body to hold a by-election for the post of president but that was withdrawn in January.

In its application to strike out the lawsuit against it, TUCO argued that Peters’ pleaded case did not disclose membership which was an essential ingredient of his lawsuit.

The matter has been adjourned to May 11.

Peters is represented by attorney Peter Taylor while attorneys Umesh Maharaj and Nerisa Bala represent TUCO.

In December, Peters sought to force the calypso body to hold a by-election, which he said should have been held on October 12 last year, after Masimba died.

On April 9, TUCO held a general membership meeting but Newsday was told no date has yet been set for the holding of an election for the organisation. Until then, King remains president.

He said at the meeting, members were encouraged to hold discussions with the council as organisation looks at establishing a new structure to take TUCO forward.

Peters’s lawsuit asks for a declaration that King’s elevation is illegal.

In his application, Peters said TUCO’s executive had steadfastly refused to hold a by-election in accordance with article 9(j) of the governing body’s constitution, under which if the presidency is vacant, the vice-president becomes interim president until a by-election is held within three months.

The 71-year-old calypsonian said King was elected interim president days after Masimba died. But, he said, at a subsequent meeting, a motion was moved to rescind King’s elevation as interim president and make him president.

This motion was seconded and approved by 14 members in favour. There were two abstentions. Another motion was then moved to appoint King as TUCO’s representative on the National Carnival Commission (NCC) board.

These decisions, Peters contends, are illegal since they are contrary to TUCO’s constitution.

He also said TUCO’s general secretary Shirlaine Hendrickson told him the general council had decided to postpone the by-election until further notice.

In October, Peter’s attorney sent TUCO a pre-action protocol letter calling on the executive to hold the by-election immediately and complaining about King’s being made president.

Taylor said Article 13(2) of the constitution says a president must be elected by secret ballot, and while the general council had the power to fill a vacancy when it arose, that was “a temporary or stop-gap measure to ensure continuity…upon the sudden or untimely death or resignation of a member.”

The attorney insisted it could not supersede Article 13 (2) on the election of a president to the substantive post.

“There are very good reasons for this since the president is also president of the administrative executive and (the) position is full time.”

At the time, King dismissed the allegations and said he didn’t make himself president, but the issue was left in the hands of the general council, which had the power to do what it did when it moved to appoint him.

He said this was not a new occurrence, but had been done on at least three prior occasions and nobody questioned it.

In January, he said he had no fight against any calypsonian and was willing to speak with Peters.